Father, Son and Other Animals

Father, Son and Other Animals is an illustrated collection of stories exploring parenting, extinction, love and loss. Order online from Cordite Books, or ask your local bookstore to order it in for you.

James Bradley writes in his introduction:

I want more books with the complexity and intelligence of Father, Son and Other Animals. Not just because we’re going to need them if we’re to find ways of processing and commemorating the transformation of the world, but because we need to find ways to live and celebrate as well as to mourn and rage.

The book’s sophisticated interweaving of text and image, grief and humour, wisdom and bafflement does just that, capturing not just the dislocation of our historical moment, but also the bonds of love and care that bind us to each other. Simultaneously painful, funny and profound, it is a small marvel of a book.

My Preface to the book:

After my parents’ dinner parties, I’d pour dregs from wine bottles into saucers for the fairies – white wine for the good ones, red for the wicked. The red always disappeared faster, which I took as proof that naughty people have more fun. I didn’t really believe that fairies drank the wine but equally, I didn’t not believe either.

As a parent, I am tuning back to that curious magic of childhood; the naive ambivalence that accepts the existence of tooth fairies and flying reindeer; the unadulterated wonder at new things; the unexpected grace of an ibis in flight; the dinosaur shriek of a sulphur-crested cockatoo; the shocking weirdness of a Gymea lily in bloom; the otherworldly-warble of currawongs as dusk settles in.

Yet, as wonder flows back into my daily life, so too does the creeping realisation that we are living in a time of overlapping and escalating environmental crises. What stories will prepare my son for a future that frightens me? For me, there is no overarching narrative or truth, no heroic figure who will lead us to salvation from this mess we’re in. Instead, sense is made from paying attention to the assemblages of people and other animals who we move among on a damaged planet. I read and write and draw to make sense of a world I no longer recognise.